Victim Groups Criticize Pope Francis
Over Abuse Letter
An Associated Press Article
A lay Catholic group in southern Chile that has opposed a bishop accused of sex abuse cover-up says revelations by The Associated Press that Pope Francis heard directly from a victim about the problem “brings an end to his ‘zero tolerance’ rhetoric.” Juan Carlos Claret, a spokesman for Laicos de Osorno, said Monday that the pope and his subordinates must now answer the question of “who decided to constantly discredit the testimony of the victims.” “It’s not possible to maintain, as some do, that the pope didn’t know and that he had slanted information,” Claret said. “Instead, we’re in the presence of a pope who had full knowledge of it all, and still decides to submit a community to unspeakable suffering.”
The AP reported on Monday that Pope Francis received a victim’s letter in 2015 that graphically detailed his sexual abuse and a cover-up by Chilean church authorities – contradicting the pope’s insistence that no victims had come forward. AP obtained the letter from Chilean survivor Juan Carlos Cruz. Members of the pope’s sex-abuse advisory commission say they flew to Rome in 2015 specifically to hand-deliver the letter to a top papal adviser, Cardinal Sean O’Malley. Cruz and commission members say O’Malley assured them he had delivered it to the pope.
Francis recently sparked an outcry by vigorously defending Bishop Juan Barros, who was a protege of Father Fernando Karadima, a charismatic priest who was sanctioned by the Vatican in 2011 for sexually abusing minors. Some of the victims allege that Barros witnessed the abuse, placing him at the scene when Karadima kissed and fondled minors.
Barros has denied knowing of the abuse or covering up for Karadima.
On the flight back from his recent visit to Chile and Peru, Francis said he had never heard from victims about Barros’s behavior. “This is why I was shocked when I heard the Pope had said on the plane the Karadima victims had not come to him and he would listen if they did. I knew they had contacted him directly with this letter three years ago!” Marie Collins said in a Tweet. Collins is an abuse survivor who resigned her position on the pope’s Commission for the Protection of Minors on March 1, 2017, citing a lack of cooperation from other Vatican offices.
The head of a U.S.-based group that has compiled a clergy abuse database said the revelations point to “inexcusable dysfunction at best and willful deception at worst.” Anne Barrett Doyle is co-director of BishopAccountability.org. She said the “distressing and more likely explanation is that the pope lied.”